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The very merry problematic month of May

By Amy Nielsen

I don’t remember when I fully understood that May is a problematic month for me. I know it has been so for a very long stretch of my life. It is both my most favorite month and also the month I most prefer to keep at arm’s length. In working on a project for school, I am required to write a timeline of my life and I have been struck by certain patterns. Events in May seem to top the list.

May is traditionally seen as the glorious bursting forth of life after the rains of April washing all the seeds of the earth as they are heated with lengthening sun. In truth, buds quite literally burst open in the warm sun as they swell with cell growth at a rate that we can see with the naked eye and measure by the hour in some plants.

Ladybugs emerge from the window panes while orange newts and garden snakes sun on the slate path. Skunks and peepers dominate the still chilly nights. Goslings and eaglets. Bunny kits scatter when I walk to the car in the morning. You can almost hear the buzz of the electrons being transferred as the sun rises stronger every morning.

This energy is infectious and sends my focus to scatter with the winds that swirl with the thunderous storm drafts.

The events that have happened in May over the years are difficult to list without sounding like a litany of personal catastrophe alternating with ridiculous coincidence. Suffice to say that there are several birthdays - mine, my Dad’s, and my daughter’s. There are several personal childhood surgeries always landing in May. Having spent a lot of years in a private school, it marks the beginning of summer being let out several weeks earlier than our public school counterparts. Last, but arguably the most catastrophic, it is the month that took my Dad from me.

That last one might seem to many like the biggie, but it really was just the universal exclamation point on an already crystal clear message. May is trouble.

Ever since I was a kid, May has been a month of anxiety. My May usually meant either packing like a crazy person to spend the months before the next school year overseas, or prepping like a crazy person for surgery on my knees so we could leave for overseas as soon as I was recovered enough.

In reading over this assignment I have the regular sense of déjà vu as I write out yet another seasonal march of weirdness in May. In the last few years I have made a study of May, and this year is no different. I know that I started focusing on May the year we bought this house. We closed on May 1.

When the realtor put the key in my hand that early May morning, I felt for all the world like there was a shift in the fabric of the universe. It was a shift I knew well having felt it a few times before already. For once, however, I actually was able to focus on it and understand that it was a shift into another plane of my progression in this life and to be welcomed rather than a ticket to a new level of panic and terror.

That first May at our house in Grove Hill was a great and glorious one. One for the record books. It was filled with new experiences, hard work, and a personal sense of accomplishment I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was the beginning of my next go around.

The following May was among the most terrible as it was an anniversary of a huge loss. For almost 25 years, now more than half my lifetime, I have been without my Dad. He was killed in a car accident in May so very long ago. May is our shared birthday month and I firmly believe a little of his soul lives in his granddaughter born on a Mother’s Day that happened to fall the day before his birthday.

It is interesting to note from a purely clinical side that the majority of my manic episodes begin in May. I have had this pointed out to me recently by a few learned folks in both my professional and personal circles. The key now will be to get a plan together so the summer doesn’t explode into pixie dust or dragon flame and I have a shot at not collapsing again next May.

So to say May is complicated is somewhat of an understatement.

In working with a Shaman from a long way away a couple years ago, I learned to hear myself in a way I had never before. So now I listen to May with ears tuned to my energy. I have learned about the fire in the belly of one with a connection to the May energy, the fire of Beltane, the bursting of bud.

The flipside to all of this is that I absolutely adore the nature of May. After the winter, May feels like I can breathe again, even and especially with all of the blasted pollen. There is finally enough sunlight that I feel like I am alive. Every day, even the rainy, chilly one, I can see progress of each leaf growing, I can smell the oxygen being returned to the air by the plants, I can feel the Earth warming under my feet.

May is such a glorious riot of emotion that I get turned around and upside down. I can’t contain the energy that zooms around and begs, no demands, to be entertained. A May thunderstorm will for sure remind you how small and insignificant you are. May is very merry and also very problematic.

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